Cocktail & Other Recipes Cocktail Type Nonalcoholic

Mental Note

Beet juice stars in this earthy, tart non-alcoholic drink from Natasha David.

Mental Note non alcoholic cocktail
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

Non-alcoholic cocktails sometimes suffer from a lack of complexity. That’s far from the case with this rich and earthy drink from bartending pro Natasha David, who combines freshly-pressed beet juice with grapefruit and lemon juices, vanilla syrup, and raspberry preserves.

“The awe-inspiring color of this drink is vibrant enough to wake you from the depths of a deep, satisfying slumber,” writes David in her 2022 book Drink Lightly. “The first sip is intended to give you a little spark of electricity that you can feel all the way down in your toes. Tart but unwaveringly earthy, it’s equally comforting and life-giving.”

A heaping barspoon of raspberry preserves ties everything together. David relies on jams for many of her cocktails to add body, which is of particular importance in non-alcoholic applications. “They help us with texture problems, helping give thin cocktails that much needed rounded boost,” she writes. 

For her homemade vanilla syrup, David uses aromatic Tahitian vanilla extract and lactic acid, which contributes acidity and texture. However, a simpler version can be made with water, sugar, and vanilla bean.

David’s instructions call for “snow-coning” the crushed ice, which simply means mounding the ice on top of the drink—an eye-catching presentation for a special drink.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce fresh beet juice

  • 1/2 ounce Tahitian Vanilla Syrup (recipe below, or alternately, vanilla simple syrup)

  • 1 heaping barspoon raspberry preserves, with seeds

  • Garnish: grapefruit crescent

  • Garnish: lemon wheel

Steps

  1. Combine the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, beet juice, syrup, and raspberry preserves in a shaker.

  2. Add cube ice and shake.

  3. Fine-strain into a festive glass over crushed ice.

  4. Snow-cone, or create a dome over the top of the drink, with additional ice.

  5. Garnish with a grapefruit crescent and lemon wheel. Serve with a straw.

  6. To make Tahitian Vanilla Syrup: In a medium bowl, combine 500 grams (about 2 cups) simple syrup, 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) Tahitian vanilla extract, 2 grams (about 2 teaspoons) lactic acid, and 1 pinch kosher salt. Using a whisk, combine until the lactic acid and salt are dissolved. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

What Tools Do I Need?

The beet juice calls for a juicer or extractor. If using store-bought beet juice, look for cold-pressed juices rather than juices made from concentrate. David suggests fine-straining juices with a tea strainer before using; this recipe also calls for fine-straining the ingredients after shaking them. Many bartenders prefer to measure ingredients for syrups and other modifiers using grams to ensure accuracy. If you are measuring ingredients for the vanilla syrup in grams, you will need a kitchen scale.

Where Can I Buy the Ingredients?

David’s vanilla syrup calls for Tahitian vanilla extract, which is prized for its intense fruity notes. It also employs lactic acid, an organic acid found in yogurt and kefir that adds slight tartness and richness to cocktails. Look for food-grade powdered lactic acid when using in cocktail applications. Brands including Nielsen-Massey and King Arthur Baking Company make Tahitian vanilla extract. Lactic acid powder can be purchased on Amazon.